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Well, it’s fall again. Back to school. Back to work. Back to the gazillion activities each family member has.
To celebrate this exciting time of year of beginnings, I’ve decided to offer my readers another FREE sewing pattern! Hooray! And even better, it’s part of my Learn to Machine Sew series, as the practice tutorial for the lesson on piecing curves together.
Yes, I’m talking about a pencil-shaped pencil holder! Kids love these because they’re big enough to put all their school supplies (preferably labeled with the wonderful Sticker Kid labels) in, and also because hey– how fun is it to put pencils inside another pencil?
And as a cool optional extra, I’ll show you how to use freezer paper stencilling to customize the pencil case with a name or turn it into the classic #2 pencil that anyone who’s gone to school in the United States knows well!
There’s nothing like a fully-lined zipper pouch, right? I love how clean it looks inside the zipper. I even show how to add little zipper tabs to hide the end of the zipper tape to let it blend in with the surrounding fabric.
So, what are we waiting for? On with the pencil shaped pencil case tutorial!
Preparing the pattern and fabric
- small amount of yellow, salmon pink, light brown, black and grey fabric (I used black instead of grey)
- small amount of lining fabric (preferably a lighter color without print that can be seen through the yellow outer fabric. I just used the light brown fabric for the lining.)
- one 16-cm (6 1/2″) zipper (If you can’t find this size, buy a 7″ nylon zipper and shorten it to the right size with this super quick method. Remember, zipper length is measured between the top and bottom zipper stops. For more information on zippers and sewing them, read this sewing lesson on zippers.)
- regular zig zag and zipper feet
- pencil case pattern (free for all Cucicucicoo newsletter subscribers! Sign up here for the newsletter and you’ll get a link to download it right away!)
Materials for optional stencils:
- freezer paper*
- X-acto knife*
- small cutting mat* (suggested) or old cardboard to cut on
- black fabric paint*
- small stiff paintbrush or sponge for applying paint
All sewing is done with a 3/8″ (1 cm) seam allowance.
Print out the pattern pieces without scaling. (In case you missed it above, you can get the pattern for free when you sign up here for the Cucicucicoo newsletter. I love my subscibers and treat them as well as I can!)
If you prefer to measure and cut rectangular pieces without pattern pieces, just print pages 1-2 and look at each rectangular piece on pages 3-5 to see the dimensions to cut. If you prefer using pattern pieces for all pieces, print out all five pages and tape together pages 4-5. Then cut out all nine pieces. (See this post on printing and assembling PDF patterns if you are new to it!)
Cut out the number of pieces from each color as indicated on the pattern pieces. As I already mentioned, I used the light brown color also for the lining, and I cut out Piece 8 from black instead of grey.
Make a small mark inside the seam allowance on the wrong sides of the fabric at the top of each Piece 5 on the side marked “top” and on the two sides of Piece 9 marked “zipper side.”
Freezer paper stencilling (optional)
These steps are totally optional, but do add that extra detail that make this pencil pouch so much fun! If you have never freezer paper stencilled before, I highly recommend you first read this tutorial of mine on how to do it.
Find the number two symbol on page 2 of the pattern. Trace over it with a pencil on freezer paper (shiny side down) and cut a rectangle around it with about 2 cm of space around it. (I left less space than that and paint almost went over the edge on to the fabric.)
Use the X-acto knife to remove the black inner part inside the oval, but around the number. I’ve marked that part with an X in the image above. Throw that part away.
Iron the freezer paper along one short side Piece 6, on the right side of the fabric. The top edge of the oval should be 2 cm from the edge of the long side of the fabric, and the right edge of the oval should be 2 cm from the short side of the fabric. Use a hot iron with no steam.
(Iron on the outer part first just for a few seconds, then position the inner number and iron both parts together.)
If you want to add a name stencil, you can draw it freehand on the freezer paper. Or, if you’re not good at that sort of thing, write the name with some computer software in all different fonts to find the one you like the most. I used Adobe Illustrator to do this, but you could also use Photoshop or any other program that uses fonts.
Once you’ve decided which font to use, enlarge it and hold it the fabric up to the screen to check the size. When it’s the size that you like, trace around it with freezer paper directly from the screen (as I explained in this tutorial). Then cut around the whole name and cut out and remove the inside of the letters with the X-acto knife.
Iron the name 2 cm from the other short side of Piece 6. Then apply two coats of fabric paint (letting it dry in between), then let it sit overnight before peeling off the paper and heat-setting the paint according to the paint’s instructions.
If that’s too much work or takes more time that you have, you could also just quickly apply a Sticker Kid iron-on name label! I really love these labels (read my full review here) and all Cucicucicoo readers can get a 10% discount on all customized stickers, iron-on labels and ID bracelets at Stickerkid.com* with the coupon code “CUCICUCICOO”! Worldwide shipping is super fast, too!
Sewing the outer pencil
This is my favorite part, because the pencil starts really taking shape!
Match up one long side of Piece 8 with the long side of Piece 6 where the number two is (if you added it), right sides facing. Pin and sew. (Remember, all sewing in the pattern is done with a 3/8″ [1 cm] seam allowance!)
Match up one long side of Piece 7 with the other long side of Piece 8, right sides facing. To do this, you have to open up the seam made in the previous step.
Iron the seams open from the back of the fabric (picture on top). Flip the fabric over and you’ll see that the pencil is taking shape (bottom)!
Sewing the zipper tabs
This part really isn’t totally necessary either, but it makes the pencil bag look so much nicer!
Use a wide zig-zag stitch with 0 stitch length (or as short as possible) to join the two sides of the zipper tape at the top. This will make it easier to sew in the next steps.
Let’s start at the bottom of the zipper, which is easier to sew than the top!
Put the zipper foot on your sewing machine.
Place one lining Piece 5 wrong side up on the wrong side of the zipper. The side marked with an X should be positioned 1 cm beyond the bottom zipper stop. Pin and sew in place.
The pictures above show how it should look from the wrong side of the zipper (left) and the right side of the zipper (right).
Place the yellow Piece 5 wrong side up on the right side of the zipper. Line it up with the lining Piece 5 on the other side of the zipper tape, again, with the side marked with an X towards the end of the zipper tape. Pin in place and sew from the wrong side of the zipper, sewing on top of the previous stitches, slightly closer to the zipper stop, if possible. This will help hide the previous stitches from the outside.
The picture on the left above shows what it will look like from the right side of the zipper. (I have two lines of stitching because I sewed too far from the zipper stop the first time, so don’t pay any attention to that!)
Fold both zipper tabs back and iron them flat (as shown on the right).
Now do the same thing on the other end of the zipper, starting from the back with the other lining Piece 5, then finishing on the front with pink Piece 5. Then fold and iron. Mine’s sewn a bit messily here, but it’s no problem!
And there’s your zipper with the zipper tabs on it! It doesn’t look so interesting here, but it really makes the pencil pouch look so much more professional afterwards!
Sewing the zipper
If you don’t have much experience sewing zippers, I highly recommend you first read my zipper sewing lesson and sew the simple zippered pouch to practice zippers before moving on to this slightly more complicated lined zipper technique.
Line up one edge of the zipper with one edge of the outer pencil, right sides facing. Make sure that the yellow zipper tab is on the yellow side of the pencil and the pink zipper tab is on the pink eraser side. Pin and sew that one side.
Flip the outer pencil piece so that the zipper is at the bottom and that both the fabric and the zipper are right side up, as seen above.
Lift the zipper up, folding the fabric in half with right sides facing, so that you match up the non-sewn zipper edge with the non-sewn fabric edge. Make sure that the edges of the ferrule match up, as shown by the arrows above. (The ferrule is that metal strip holding pencil erasers in place. I had to google it to find the right terminology!)
When you are sure that the ferrule edges are lined up and the zipper and fabric edges are lined up, pin the zipper and fabric and sew.
Sometimes fabric can slip around while pinning it, so flip open that end up the fabric tube to make sure that the ferrule is nicely matched up.
Now let’s add the lining. Lay Piece 9 flat, right side up, with one side marked for the zipper at the top. Line up the top edge with one edge of the zipper (it doesn’t matter which), wrong side down.
This can be a little confusing at first, because the zipper is obviously already attached to the main pencil body. Just keep the pencil fabric tube flat with the zipper flattened underneath (without folding the zipper tape) and with one edge of the zipper at the top. Notice that you can see the stitching holding the fabric to the zipper in the picture above. The zipper teeth are just below the stitching, underneath the yellow fabric.
Pin the zipper in place, then sew right on top of that line of stitching, or a little closer to the zipper teeth if possible.
Flip the fabric with the zipper at the bottom (wrong side up) and the pencil body fabric beneath the lining (right side up), as seen above.
Like we did before, lift the zipper up, folding the lining in half with right sides facing, so that you match up the other zipper edge with the non-sewn lining edge. At this point it is like you have two separate fabric tubes, one on top of the other, with the right sides inside the tubes.
Pin the zipper in place, then sew right on top of that line of stitching, or a little closer to the zipper teeth if possible.
Flip everything right side out through the tube of the outer pencil fabric.
And yah! You have a single lined tube that looks like the body of a #2 pencil! And now you can start to appreciate how good the zipper tabs look!
Put this pencil body aside while we work on other parts.
Sewing the pencil tip
Put your regular sewing machine foot back on and get Pieces 1 and 2.
If you have not done so, please read my lesson on sewing concave and convex curves together.
As I show in that lesson, the fabric edges along the curves is not the same, but the seam allowances are. So first sew along the curves with a long basting stitch, no backstitching, and a 3/8″ (1 cm) seam allowance, as shown above.
In the sewing curves lesson, the practice pieces had notches to line up. This pattern doesn’t have them, but I’ll show you how easy it is to mark them on symmetrical curves.
Fold each piece in half and place a pin along the fold where the basting stitches are. There you go– a homemade notch! Do this with both pieces.
Match up the pins with the right sides facing, and pin both pieces together where the pins are. (top)
Then match up each end of the basting stitch (along the straight fabric edges) and pin. Then continue to match the basting stitches between the three pins.
This is exactly like one of the exercises in the sewing concave and convex curves lesson, so if you don’t understand, you can find much more detailed instructions in that lesson.
Sew carefully along the pinned curve with a 3/8″ (1 cm) seam allowance, as shown in the curves lesson. Then remove both lines of basting stitches, clip and notch the seam allowance, and iron the seam allowances flat. In this case I actually just left the light brown seam allowance as it was and ironed it over the notched black seam allowance, as seen at the top in the photo above.
See your nice curve? Even if it isn’t absolutely perfectly curved, it’ll still look fine on your finished pencil case, so don’t worry. You can see on the bottom picture that mine isn’t perfect, but you really can’t even tell in the end.
Fold both your newly-sewn pencil tip and Piece 3 in half, right sides facing, as shown above. Pin in place and sew down the open straight side.
Clip the seam allowances at the point of both pieces and iron the seam allowances open, as shown above.
Turn the piece with the black tip right side out and slip the other piece inside of it, wrong sides of the fabrics facing. Gently push the tip of the lining piece as far inside the tip of the outer piece as possible with a chopstich or other blunt tip.
Line up the seams, then line up the raw edges of the two cones as best you can (the lining will stick out a little more, but don’t worry about it) and pin them together.
Sewing the pencil pieces together
Pin the two Piece 4s together, wrong sides facing.
You now have four sets circular raw edges: the two ends of the pencil tube, the pinned outer edge of the pencil tip cone, and the two circles you just pinned together. Sew around all four of these circles with a basting stitch 3/8″ (1 cm) away from the edges, as shown above.
Again, there are no notches, so let’s split each circle into fourths to help pin them together. This is the same technique that we used for sewing an exposed elastic waistband.
Take one piece and fold it in half. Stick pins into the two folds. (orange pins in the top picture) Then fold it in half again, but this time with the two pins meeting in the center. Stick two more pins in the new folds. (black pins in the bottom picture)
Do this with all four basted edges. Turn the pencil tube wrong side out and unzip it halfway before putting any pins in it. (I know, it’s still zipped in this picture. Pretend it’s halfway unzipped.)
I color-coded my pins to make it easier to match the edges up after, using orange pins for what would become the top and bottom, and the black pins for the sides. So I was sure to put an orange pin in the seam of the pencil point, and orange pins in the centers of both zipper tabs. It didn’t really matter where the orange pins were for the circles. You can see what I mean in the photo above.
Match up the pins of the circles, with the lining facing out, to the end of the tube with the pink fabric, and pin the fabric together just where the pins are. Then pin your way around the circle, matching up the basting stitches as we did before when sewing the pencil tip.
Then stick the pencil tip inside the other end of the tube, so that the black tip is inside and the pencil tip’s seam is positioned opposite the zipper tab (so that it will be at the bottom of the finished pencil case). Again, match up the pins and pin around the entire circle.
Sew slowly and carefully around both circles with a 3/8″ (1 cm) seam allowance. Before removing the basting stitches, I suggest turning the pencil case right side out to make sure that there is no fabric bunching in the permanent seams.
After removing the basting stitches, it’s time to clean up those ugly raw edges. The nicest-looking way to do this is to sew around them with bias tape. I haven’t gotten to bias tape in this course yet, so if you don’t know how to do that, just trim the edges to even off all the layers and sew around with a zig zag stitch. If you have a serger, you can trim and sew at the same time, which is what I did.
Do this on both tube ends.
Flip it right side out through the opened zipper, and look at what an adorable pencil pouch you’ve made!
The fabric will probably be wrinkled after turning it around so much, so iron it the best you can. You can stuff a small towel or rag inside to iron it, or use one of those mini ironing boards that are meant for ironing shirt sleeves.
It looks just like one of those #2 pencils that everyone in the United States has used for machine-corrected tests! But much cuter and less stress-inducing, right?! Haha!
And kids just love having their names on their things! They’ll be so happy to bring all their pens and pencils and markers to school in their own personalized pencil-shaped pencil pouch!
But don’t forget to also mark all those pens and pencils and markers and whatnot with your kids’ names! As always, I’ve labelled EVERYTHING with Sticker Kid name labels and my kids no longer lose anything! (Don’t forget to get your 10% discount on all Stickerkid.com* products with the coupon code “CUCICUCICOO”!)
Do you have a kid’s birthday or some other special occasion coming up? Why not sew him one of these, personalize it with his name, and fill it with fun materials for drawing and creating? He’d love it! Or heck… just make one for yourself! You deserve it!
This pencil shaped pencil case tutorial and pattern are part of the syllabus of Cucicucicoo’s beginner’s sewing course! Don’t forget to share pictures of your work on Facebook or the Cucicucicoo Creations Flickr Group!
*This post contains affiliate links.